The In Motion Volunteer Program

Jeffery Gosnell Personal Experiences & Stories, Volunteers

The benefits of volunteering are well-established. Studies show that senior citizens who volunteer generally live longer and have fewer health problems than those who do not. Senior volunteers often possess a greater feeling of well-being, a deeper sense of community, and a stronger perception of purpose.

The “IN MOTION” program at Lake Williamson Christian Center in Carlinville, Illinois is for adult volunteers with a desire to make a difference. Many retired volunteers provide the trade skills they formerly worked at as a career. Other volunteers give of their time in any number of non-skilled assignments. All recognize they still have much to offer through their volunteering.

IN MOTION’s seasonal volunteers are often “Snow Birds,” who migrate to Carlinville when the weather warms up. These seniors usually stay in their RV’s, sharing a strong sense of community as they live at Lake Williamson’s RV park. On summer evenings, it is common to see these volunteers sitting around the campfire laughing.

Seasonal volunteers Terry and Sharon Bryant spend their winters in Florida. When asked why they come back to Lake Williamson each spring, Sharon passionately says, “We give of our time, but get back double-fold. The more we give, the more blessed we are! As long as God gives us our health, we will continue to volunteer.”

Year-round volunteers at Lake Williamson live and work in the area. They share in the community of the seasonal volunteers, with regular game nights and cookouts. Some live in their RV’s during the summer. Myron and Sally Kates are a couple who originally planned on being seasonal volunteers. As Myron tells it, they were looking for a “cheaper way to live after retirement.” Because meals and an RV site are provided to couples who volunteer 30 hours each week, the Kates recognized that volunteering at Lake Williamson allowed them to live on less income.

However, as seasonal volunteers began traveling south for the winter, the Kates decided to buy a house in Carlinville and stay. “We wanted to continue volunteering, because we enjoyed it so much. The atmosphere was wonderful. After a while, the free meals weren’t all that important to us. We just love helping out on weekends during the winter.”

There are three service levels of volunteering in the IN MOTION program, Gold, Silver, & Bronze. Each level is reached through a minimum number of weekly volunteer hours and provides amenities like a free RV-site, some meals, and Lake Williamson recreation. There is also a program for weekend-only volunteers.

The staff at Lake Williamson wants volunteers to feel as though the retreat center is their home away from home, where friendships grow and laughter abounds. If you would like more information about volunteering at Lake Williamson, contact Beth Mahkovtz at 217.854.4820 or bethm@lakewilliamson.org.